Same-Sex Divorce: Navigating Unique Legal Territory
The advent of marriage equality marks a civil rights milestone. But it has also brought new complexities for dissolving these partnerships under evolving legal frameworks. At Gale, Angelo, Johnson & Patrick P.C., our LGBTQIA+ family law attorneys leverage substantial expertise guiding couples in Sacramento, Placer, Yolo, Yuba, Sutter, El Dorado, and Nevada counties through same-sex divorce and domestic partnership dissolution.
With sensitivity and skill, we identify unique legal considerations, secure your rights, and smooth the way forward.
Understanding Distinctions in Same-Sex Divorce
While governed by many identical California Family Code statutes, notable differences exist between same-sex and opposite-sex divorce. For example, same-sex couples frequently have lengthier pre-marital partnerships, commingling assets and finances for years before gaining legal marriage rights. Tracing, valuing and classifying this jointly acquired property requires forensic accounting and creative legal arguments.
Additionally, evolving case law around federal pensions, Social Security benefits, and inheritance rights continues reshaping standards for property division. Our in-depth knowledge of current statutes and lawsuits ensures your rights are fully protected. We stay vigilant regarding changing laws at both state and national levels to secure equitable settlements.
Another consideration is that many same-sex couples are interracial couples facing layered discrimination. We ensure racial, gender identity and sexual orientation diversity issues that may impact custody are sensitively handled. Bottom line: we tailor representation to your unique situation as an LGBTQIA+ partnership dissolving.
Summary Dissolution vs. Divorce for Ending Domestic Partnerships
Registered domestic partners in California have two options for legally ending their partnership:
Summary Dissolution: A summary dissolution swiftly terminates the partnership through a streamlined process without court hearings. But strict requirements must be met, including:
- Both partners consent mutually to dissolve the partnership
- The partnership has existed less than five years
- No children were born of the partnership
- Assets and debts are below specified limits
Even summary dissolutions benefit from legal assistance navigating proper forms, property division and spousal support considerations.
Divorce/Dissolution: For partnerships with children, complex assets or unresolved disputes over support or property, a formal dissolution proceeding is required. We litigate tenaciously in court while also pursuing alternatives like collaborative divorce when appropriate.
Regardless of which dissolution method makes sense, we help you end domestic partnerships with wisdom and care.
Securing Your Rights at the Intersection of Marriage and Domestic Partnership
For couples who formalized their commitment both as registered domestic partners and legal spouses once same-sex marriage was recognized, unwinding these overlapping partnerships requires strategic navigation. We leverage our specialized expertise to ethically disentangle commingled assets and secure your protections under both frameworks simultaneously.
Additionally, we advise couples in domestic partnerships on potential benefits to legally marrying before dissolving the partnership. Marital rights to assets, support and benefits may outweigh marriage termination costs. We help you make informed choices given your circumstances.
Crafting Parenting Plans Protecting Your Family
Another consideration unique to same-sex divorce is confronting bias against your parental rights. Some judges may harbor prejudices against LGBTQIA+ parents, particularly within certain counties. But California law clearly establishes non-biological and non-gestational parents in same-sex relationships as legal parents when provisions like marital presumption are met.
We vigorously counter any resistance to recognizing your parenthood, pursuing decrees affirming your parental rights. For couples with children conceived through assisted reproductive technology like IVF during the relationship, we ensure custody, visitation and child support protect your ongoing family ties.
Consult a Certified Specialist in Northern California LGBTQIA+ Family Law
At Gale, Angelo, Johnson & Patrick P.C., we leverage over 25 years of combined experience providing representation in divorce, child custody and support, complex property division, prenuptial agreements, and other family law matters. Attorney Lauren R. Patrick holds the distinction of being a Certified Family Law Specialist, with specific experience in same-sex partnership dissolutions.
Whether you are dissolving a registered domestic partnership or same-sex marriage, contact our firm today to schedule an initial consultation. Let our proven legal team support you each step of the way with strategic guidance, compassionate counsel, and tenacious protection of your rights.
The path forward awaits. We’re proud to stand with you as you take the next step toward greater justice, freedom and peace.